Assignment: How to Build Genogram

Assignment: How to Build Genogram

Assignment: How to Build Genogram

 

(Many of the symbols and definitions are adopted from GenoPro.com)

Although there is general agreement on the basic genogram structure and symbols, there are some variations from one author to another and some in the GenoPro software program on how to depict certain family situations, such as cutoffs, adoptions etc. (Bowen, 1980; Kramer, 1985; McGoldrick, Gerson, & Shellenberger, 1999). The following are the common to genogram construction. The male is represented by a square and the female by a circle. You may also use a diamond for a pet and the question mark for unknown gender.

Deaths are typically represented by putting an “X” through the symbol. (If you ever do a genogram with a client, ask the client how he/she would like to represent the death since putting an “X” through the symbol without their permission could be traumatizing.)

For one to be called a parent, they would have to have at least 1 of the 3 types of children: biological/natural, foster, or adopted. On the genogram, a triangle is the standard diagrammatic representation of a pregnancy, a miscarriage, or an abortion. While an abortion is represented with a horizontal line on top of the triangle, a diagonal cross in the same position indicates the death of a baby through a miscarriage. As for a still birth, it is displayed the same as its gender, though the gender symbol is two times smaller, while the diagonal cross remains the same size.

The reason is obvious as to why the children on a genogram are placed below the family line, starting from the oldest to the youngest, and from the left hand to right. Take note that these are vitally important rules to remember down the road, as the family system becomes labyrinthine. The GenoPro software, however, does allow variations in this area.

Birth, marriage, divorce, and death dates may be indicated by the initial and year (i.e., b. 89). The ages of the individuals are put in as numbers in the markers. Alcoholism (or other relevant issues) is frequently indicated by filling in the bottom part of the individual’s marker.

image1.png Genogram symbols for child links and special birth

The child links are joined together for multiple births, such as twins, triplets, etc. Identical twins (or triplets, etc.) are displayed with a horizontal line between the siblings. In the example below, the mother had two fraternal twin brothers, two identical twin sisters and triplets, one of which died at birth.

image2.png Child links are joined for multiple births such as twins and triplets

There are 4 general rules to keep in mind:

1. The female is always at the right of the family and the male is always at the left.

2. Where there is ambiguity, it is recommended to assume a male-female relationship instead of a same sex relationship.

3. It is assumed that a spouse must always be closer to his/her first partner than to subsequent partners (if any).

4. The youngest child is always at the right of the family and the oldest child is always at the left.

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